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University of Aston

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University of Aston

Aston University
File:Aston arms.jpg
Motto "Forward"
Established 1875 (granted University Status by Royal Charter in 1966) [1]
Type Public
Endowment £1.9 million[2]
Chancellor Sir John Sunderland
Vice-Chancellor Dame Julia King
Admin. staff 1,000+
Students 10,900 [3]
Undergraduates 8,075 [3]
Postgraduates 2,825 [3]

Birmingham, England, UK
Coordinates: 52°29′10″N 1°53′22″W / 52.4860°N 1.8895°W / 52.4860; -1.8895

Campus 60 acres (240,000 m2), urban [4]

Black and Red

Affiliations Association of Commonwealth Universities European University Association Universities UK AACSB

Aston University (formally The University of Aston, or simply Aston) is a research-led plate glass campus university situated at Gosta Green, in the city centre of Birmingham, England. Aston began as the Birmingham Municipal Technical School in 1895, evolving into the UK’s first elite College of Advanced Technology in 1956.[5] Aston University’s Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth II was granted on 22 April 1966.[6]

Aston is a research-led University known for its links to industry, government and commerce.[7] In 2008 Research Assessment Exercise Aston University was placed 12th out of 118 participating universities in the UK, with 86% of Aston research submitted is classed as internationally significant.[8][9] A majority of undergraduate students are registered on courses leading to a BSc[10] and 70% of eligible undergraduate students at Aston are enrolled on four-year sandwich courses, spending a year abroad or on industry placements.[11][12] The university emphasises its focus on industry placements and graduate employment record.[13] Graduate employers ranked Aston University 51st in the world for graduate employability (2012 QS World University Rankings)[14] and was ranked 5th out of all UK universities for the highest percentage of graduate employment record.[15] In 2012 Aston University was placed 47th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings in Top 50 Universities Under 50 Years Old,[16] and was also ranked among the top 2% of universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings[17] and QS World University Rankings.[18] The University was also rated among the top 10 UK universities for producing millionaires.[19] Aston has performed well in the National Student Survey, with the 10th highest average satisfaction score of all UK mainstream universities at 80.6% in 2008 and the 13th highest percentage of all UK universities.[20] The average UCAS points offer given for 2012/13 was 396 or AAA+.[21]

Aston Business School (part of the university) celebrated its 60 year anniversary in 2007, one of the most established in the UK and Europe.[22] It is a highly selective, top-ranking business school, among only less than 1% of business schools globally to be granted Triple accreditation: EQUIS by the EFMD, AMBA and the AACSB.[23]


Aston University was founded in 1895 and granted its Royal Charter as Aston University in 1966. It separated from the Birmingham and Midland Institute in 1895 as The Birmingham Municipal Technical School,[24] it changed its name in 1927 to the Birmingham Central Technical College,[24] to reflect its changing approach to teaching technology.

In 1951 The Technical College was renamed the College of Technology, Birmingham[24] and work began on the Main Building at Gosta Green. In 1956, it became the first designated College of Advanced Technology and underwent a major expansion.[24] The first step took place when it moved to an area north of Jennens Road in 1955. It moved into buildings that were constructed between 1949 and 1955 to a design by Ashley & Newman. The college expanded again to a design by the City Architect of Birmingham Alwyn Sheppard Fidler between 1957 and 1965.[25]

It officially became the University of Aston in Birmingham on receipt of its Royal Charter on 22 April 1966.

Since May 2011 Sir John Sunderland has been the current Chancellor of Aston University.

Aston University hosted the British Science Festival in September 2010, said to be Europe's largest public science event.

Aston University Engineering Academy

The university is a lead sponsor of Aston University Engineering Academy, a new university technical college (UTC) which opened in September 2012. The UTC is for students aged 14 to 19 wishing to pursue further study and careers in engineering, and is located at the edge of the Aston University campus.[26]

Aston Science Park

In 1983, Aston University, in partnership with Birmingham City Council and Lloyds Bank, established Birmingham Technology Ltd., which manages the Aston Science Park adjacent to the university site.


Established in 1895 as the Birmingham Municipal Technical School,[27] The university is situated on a 60-acre campus at Gosta Green, in the city centre of Birmingham, England.[11] As well as being home to over 3,000 students, the Aston University campus has the following amenities available: sports centres, swimming pool, 120 station gym, library, cafés, restaurants, pubs, shops, travel centre, hairdresser, health centre, dentist, places of worship, opticians, a bank, automated teller machines and plenty of outside space.

The Aston University Library is on four floors and contains over 250,000 books, 800 current printed periodicals and has over 700 reader places. It provides online access to over 40 electronic databases and more than 3,400 electronic journals. The Library is open 24 hours a day to Aston students and staff during term time.

Around the campus there are also various open-access IT suites, offering computer and internet access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They offer access to a range of software packages, database systems and computer-aided learning materials.


Aston's sports facilities include a 25m swimming pool, sauna and steam room, two sports halls, 120 station Gym, weights and fitness rooms, two storey dance studio and 35 sports clubs. The campus also has two 3G floodlit sports pitches. Clubs train and compete, many in the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) Leagues. Off campus the University manages a 40 acre sports ground with floodlit pitches, pavilion for all outdoor sports.

Organisation and administration

Faculties and departments

All of Aston University's faculties are based on one campus. They are organised into the following four schools:

  • School of Engineering and Applied Science
    • Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Electronic Engineering
    • Engineering Systems and Management
    • Mathematics
    • Mechanical Engineering and Design
  • School of Life and Health Sciences
    • Audiology
    • Biology
    • Biomedical Science
    • Optometry
    • Pharmacy
    • Psychology
  • School of Languages and Social Sciences*
    • Modern languages & translation studies
    • International relations, politics & European studies
    • English language
    • Sociology & public policy
  • Aston Business School
    • Aston Law
    • Economics and Strategy
    • Finance and Accounting
    • Marketing Group
    • Operations and Information Management Group
    • Work and Organisational Psychology

Coat of arms

The university's arms were granted on 18 March 1955 by Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy and Ulster Kings of Arms to the Birmingham Corporation, for use by the former College of Technology. They were designed to show the College's connection with the City and with the teaching of technology. The arms consist of a shield and crest. The shield has two sections – the field (the main background) which is coloured blue and a chief (the broad band across the top of the shield) of silver. On the field is a diagonal line of five gold diamonds joined one to the other, similar to the first quarter of the Arms of the City of Birmingham and incorporated in the Arms of the College to show its connection with the City. This was adopted by the family of Birmingham which derived its name from the then hamlet of Birmingham, and provided the Lords of the Manor from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. On the chief is depicted an open book bound in red placed between two black hammers, showing the connection of the University with technology, the book representing learning and the hammers engineering and allied trades.

The crest is also designed to stress the pursuit of knowledge. It consists of a red torch held erect by a forearm between two branches of gold laurel. Having been originally worn on the helmet of a fully armed person, the crest is always placed on the top of the helm. The method of joining the crest to the helm was usually concealed by decoration and, in the University’s arms, this is effected by the use of a wreath and a crown. The wreath is silver, red and black, these colours being taken from the shield. It is surmounted by a mural crown (resembling a wall), which is reserved in modern grants for persons and organisations connected with public corporations. The cloth mantling which hangs down from the top of the helm is the survival of the cloak which was originally worn to protect the armour, coloured in the two principal colours of the shield, blue and gold.[28]

The motto of the University is the same as that of the City of Birmingham: "Forward".

Academic dress

The academic dress for graduates of the University is as follows:

  • Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering
    • Gown: Black stuff of special design, having coat-type sleeve, narrow facings which continue round the neck and with extra wide gathers round the back
    • Hood: Black stuff, modified simple shape, faced inside for three inches with University lining
    • Hat: Black mortar board
  • Master of Science
    • Gown: Black stuff of special design, having coat-type sleeve, narrow facings which continue round the neck and with extra wide gathers round the back
    • Hood: Black stuff, modified simple shape, fully lined with University lining
    • Hat: Black mortar board
  • Master of Philosophy
    • Gown: Black stuff of special design, having coat-type sleeve, narrow facings which continue round the neck and with extra wide gathers round the back
    • Hood: Blue stuff, modified simple shape, fully lined with University lining
    • Hat: Black mortar board
  • Doctor of Philosophy
    • Gown: Claret colour cloth robe, having coat-type sleeve, narrow facings which continue round the neck and with extra wide gathers round the back
    • Hood: Modified simple shape, in University Red stuff, faced inside for three inches with University lining
    • Hat: Black cloth bonnet with cord and tassels of University Red
  • Doctor of Science
    • Gown: Same shape as for Doctor of Philosophy but in University Red, with facings on collar of University lining and gold cuffs on sleeves
    • Hood: Same shape as for Doctor of Philosophy but of gold silk and fully lined with University lining
    • Hat: Black velvet bonnet with cord and tassels in gold

Academic profile


In the latest 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Aston University was ranked in the top 12 in the UK in all four of its broad subject areas,[17] with 86% of research undertaken was described as 'internationally significant'. 88% of Aston academic staff were submitted for research assessment, one of the highest proportions in the UK. Grade 5 subjects include Business and Management, General Engineering, Subjects Allied to Medicine (Optometry, Biology, Pharmacy and Psychology), Languages and European Studies.[29]


Aston University has been ranked 47th in the world’s leading universities under the age of 50.[30] The University was also rated among the top 2% of universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings[17] and QS World University Rankings.[18] Graduate employers ranked Aston University 51st in the world for graduate employability (2012 QS World University Rankings)[31] and was ranked 5th out of all UK universities for the highest percentage of graduate employment record.[32]

(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2013/14, national)
> 50
(2013/14, world)
> 400
(2014, national)
The Guardian[36]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[37]
(2014, national)

Aston University is consistently ranked in the UK's top 20 or 30 in The Times and Complete University Guide rankings.[38] In The Complete University Guide 2010, the university was ranked 13th in the UK,[39] rated 1st for student life, and one of the UK's friendliest universities by FHM and Virgin Student.[40] 16 of Aston University’s 19 subject areas have consistently featured in the top 15 in 2006-10 Guardian/Times/Good University Guides, confirming its overall strength across a range of subjects.[41]

The university is highly regarded for postgraduate level success and has been consistently ranked in the top 10 for the last 15 years.[42] It is in the UK top 5 for Masters in Management Programmes and top 40 in World rankings.[42] Ranked in The World's top 100 Universities for Graduate Employer recognition (51st).[42] Out of 126 UK Universities and Colleges, it is ranked fifth for being one of the UK's Greenest Universities[42]

In the 2011 National Student Survey, Aston's overall satisfaction score was 86%, well above the UK average of 83%. Aston also has had an 'overall satisfaction' rate above the UK average for each of the seven years of the National Student Survey so far.[29] The 2011 Performance Indicators (produced by HEFCE) showed Aston had one of the lowest drop-out rates in the UK at 3.9%.[29]

Aston Business School

Main article: Aston Business School

Founded in 1947 [22] Aston Business School is one of the largest business schools in the UK and Europe.[43] It celebrated its 60 year anniversary in 2007, one of the most established in the UK.[22] ABS attracts leading academics and key thinkers from all over the world. It is a highly selective, top-ranking business school, among only 57 institutions worldwide (i.e. less than 1% of business schools globally) to be granted Triple accreditation: EQUIS by the EFMD, AMBA and the AACSB. It is considered as one of the most firmly established research based Business Schools in the UK.[44] ABS is the first institution in the UK to be allied with Beta Gamma Sigma by establishing a BGS Collegiate Chapter. In 2006 it opened a new £22m extension including new study rooms and two new lecture theatres.[45]

Aston Business School is consistently high in both the Financial Times and Economist rankings. The Financial Times Masters in Management Ranking 2012 ranks Aston as 5th in the UK, 33rd in Europe and 36th in the world.[46] Aston Business School rated by the Financial Times as 4th in the world for careers.[47] Aston was rated first for employability and MBA graduates receive a 99% salary increase by the FT and first for student diversity by Economist Which MBA 2008. The Aston MBA by distance learning was amongst the top 42 in the Financial Times Online MBA 2009 Listing.

Aston Business School Undergraduate programmes are consistently ranked in the UK's Top 10 for Business and Management degrees in the Times/Complete University Guides. The MSc programmes were ranked 3rd in the UK and 18th in the world in the 2008 FT Masters in Management rankings. With International Business, Marketing and Corporate Strategy in the top 10 in the world, career progression associated with completion of the Aston MSc was rated first globally by the FT.

In 2007, it was rated one of the top 30 business schools in Europe by the Financial Times.[48] It is one of only 27 business schools worldwide to have triple accreditation from the three largest MBA ranking associations – AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS.[49] In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2008) it came as the 9th in the UK for research excellence. 15% of research submitted was world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour; a further 45% was internationally excellent. Overall, 95% of Aston Business School research was internationally significant with 95% of academic staff in the School submitted for assessment, including many early career researchers.[50]

Student life

Students' Union

Aston Students' Union (formerly Guild) is a non-profit organisation set up with the aim of involving and representing the student body of Aston. The Union provides sports clubs, societies and Welfare Services, partially funded by the money accrued from the Union's commercial services. The Union is run by a team of permanent staff and by an elected team called the Executive who follow the rules set out in the Guild Constitution. The Union Building consists of 5 floors and is located in the centre of the Aston University Campus.

On 29 November 2006, the students voted to disaffiliate the Guild (now Union) from the National Union of Students.

Student housing

All of the accommodation in Aston University is now en-suite – 3,000 rooms in total. All campus accommodation is less than five minutes' walk from the main building, and approximately five minutes' walk from Birmingham city centre. In the 1970s, three tower blocks containing student accommodation were constructed on the Aston University campus; Dalton, Lawrence and Stafford Towers. Stafford Tower has two flats per floor, each with nine single study bedrooms sharing a large kitchen and bathroom. Lawrence and Dalton Towers were demolished on 8 May 2011.[51]

Another addition to the Aston University student dwelling stock is the Lakeside complex on campus. Completed in August 1999, it cost £14,240,000 and has flats for approximately 650 students. The building won the Best Public Building award at the 2001 Brick Development Association Awards.

On 5 April 2007, Aston University submitted a planning application for demolition of the three 1970s towers and to replace them with new student accommodation blocks as well as apartments for tutors, retail units and administrative offices. On 5 July 2007, the application was approved and work commenced in January 2008 on phase 1. Phase 1 was completed in 2010 and Phase 2 opened in September 2013. There is also a new artificial floodlit sports pitch, chaplaincy, tesco supermarket, common rooms and accommodation offices. The demolition of the existing towers will take place for phases 2 and 3.[52] The entire scheme was completed in 2013. Upon completion there will be 2,345 bedrooms in the development alone, with 650 more ensuite rooms provided at Lakeside Residences. All the new accommodation is to be en-suite but rooms/flats will be differentiated in terms of size and facilities in order to provide students with a range of different priced rooms. The Aston Student Village project will cost an estimated £215 million.[53] Phase 1 cost £57 million. Start on site date was 30 October 2008 and opened in September 2010 ready for the new term. Phase 1 buildings consist of two sections at a max height of 18 storeys with 7 and 5 ensuite bedroom apartments sharing a spacious kitchen. The buildings were named William Murdoch Residences and James Watt Residences.

On 8 May 2011, both Dalton and Lawrence accommodation towers were demolished to make way for the above improvements. Phase 2 was built between 2011 and 2013. Once completed in Autumn 2013, they were named Harriet Martineau Residences and Mary Sturge Residences.[54]

Notable people

List of Chancellors

List of Vice-Chancellors

  • Peter Venables (April 1966 - July 1969)
  • Joseph A. Pope (August 1969 - September 1979)
  • Frederick W. Crawford (July 1980 - August 1996)
  • Michael T. Wright (September 1996 - November 2006)
  • Julia King (November 2006 – present)



External links

  • Aston University
  • Aston Guild of Students
  • West Midlands
Further Education colleges
Sixth form colleges
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